China's ruling party tells its members to celebrate two birthdays: The day they were born, and the day they signed up
- The Communist Party of China (CPC) is making its members celebrate their "political birthday," or the day they joined the party.
- Commemorating "political birthdays" can "fuel, recharge, and supplement" members' love and loyalty to the party.
- Celebrations are not like typical birthdays: Members are told to host study groups and discussions on CPC's politics.
- Applicants have to go through multiple background screenings, exams, and interviews in order to join the CPC.
- The CPC's new "political birthday" directive comes as it ramps up members' loyalty to the party and its leader, President Xi Jinping.
The Communist Party of China (CPC) is telling its members to celebrate two birthdays a year: The day they were born, and the day they joined the party.
The party's disciplinary watchdog, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI), told members in a Tuesday notice to start observing their "political birthday" to remind themselves of their pledge to uphold communist principles.
"For ordinary people, there is only one birthday, which is the day of birth," the CCDI said. "But for Chinese Communist Party members, there are two birthdays. In addition to birthdays, another special birthday is the 'political birthday.'"
"When members swear by the party's bright red flag, 'I volunteer to join the Chinese Communist Party,' they are making a political choice to firmly believe in communism and making a solemn commitment to hand everything over to the party," it continued. "Such an important moment in life should be deeply remembered."
Commemorating "political birthdays" can "fuel, recharge, and supplement" party members with the "warm care" from the party, and strengthen their loyalty, the CCDI noted.
Celebrations must take on a serious and patriotic tone, though. According to the CCDI notice, party chapters must provide a "form of activity" that "emphasizes politics."
They include "revisiting the pledge that awakened" the member to joining the party, or organizing study groups and discussions for members to "realize their shortcomings and learn how to improve."
'On par with the Ivy League'
The CPC has just under 90 million members as of 2017, according to Statista. At the top is Chinese President Xi Jinping, while many prominent Chinese people like Alibaba founder Jack Ma, whose membership was revealed last year, are part of the party.
Joining the CPC is no easy feat. Applicants are thoroughly screened for their family background, academic performance, and perceived loyalty.
They also have to attend courses on the CPC constitution, take exams, and attend interviews before being voted in as a probationary member, the South China Morning Post reported.
After the probation period, which lasts about a year, the party branch then has to decide whether to admit the applicant as a full member - or expel them.
Entry into the CPC is "on par with the Ivy League," China-based journalist Ryan McMorrow wrote in 2015, citing 2014 acceptance statistics.
The CPC's push for loyalty
The CPC's new "political birthday" directive comes as it ramps up members' loyalty to the party and its leadership.
The party's publicity department recently rolled out a smartphone app that aggregates news articles, videos, and documentaries about Xi's political philosophy.
Xuexi Qiangguo - which can be translated to "Study the Powerful Country" - is currently the most popular app across China's social media platforms, according to The New York Times.
The country has also been on a massive anti-corruption campaign since Xi became president in 2012. Under his rule, the CPC has punished at least 1.3 million party members, many of whom are high-profile figures in the country, according to the South China Morning Post.
Critics say Xi has used the campaign to purge his political rivals - an allegation he denies.
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